By Patrick Leary
Serendipitous circumstances. Three weeks ago the region was blanketed in dense fog. The unpredicted and inconvenient annoyance delayed our passage across Cumberland Sound. We diverted to Little Tiger Island’s sound shore and drifted off the beach observing ca 1.5K shorebirds roosting there; a not insignificant factor in the site’s value for state purchase.
Among the birds resting were a small flock of nine American Oystercatchers, of which six were uniquely banded. One of the latter was OR[YAN]. A bird banded on Rockaway Peninsula, Queens, NY on 5/6/14. That fall 11/5/14, Doris and I resighted the bird near Cedar Key. Since that date it has been resighted multiple times at Rockaway and wintering in Cedar Key.
Thursday’s resight on Lt. Tiger was the first and only record outside its known summer and wintering locations. It’s quite possible that the fog factored into its stop-over here. Pictured is one image of subject bird collected near Cedar Key and on Lt. Tiger Thursday.
For more info on Oystercatcher biology, research and conservation visit the American Oystercatcher Working Group | Monitoring, managment and conservation of the American Oystercatcher
Update: The American Oystercatcher banded OR[YAN] was resighted by Patrick and Doris on its wintering grounds near Cedar Key on Monday.
Even more serendipity with another bird (Piping Plover) resighted on Lt. Talbot the following day (below) and also originating from the same general area of NY. “FG[8XP] meaning flag green with engraved code 8XP, was banded on 7/18/2021 as a 19-day old chick at Smith Point County Park, NY.” Banding data from Virginia Tech.
For more information on Piping Plovers visit USFWS: Piping Plover Fact Sheet
For information on banded birds visit flshorebirdalliance.org
Editor’s Note: Patrick Leary is a 71 year-old native resident of Fernandina Beach – Amelia Island. He and his wife (Doris) are multi-decade volunteers with regional state parks, national parks, state and federal wildlife agencies, and international research groups. They dedicate their time and effort to monitoring and documenting natural resources and raising awareness of anthropocentric impacts to the environment.
Doris and Pat received Audubon of Florida’s 2014 Guy Bradley award in recognition of their deep commitment to Florida’s environment. We thank Pat for his contribution to the Fernandina Observer.